Webster University’s hosting of the International Human Rights Film Series concludes Thursday, September 29th, with the marvelous South African film District 9. Science fiction films have always held the mirror up to our hopes and fears, beliefs and controversies. And District 9 presents a provocative, even profound entry into the genre.
With a restored 20 minutes, director Nicolas Roeg's 1976 science fiction film The Man Who Fell to Earth celebrates its rerelease after 35 years. The predicament that sends Thomas Jerome Newton to Earth feels quite prophetic now—Newton's planet suffers from drought and he seeks water. The iconic David Bowie plays Newton with a mixture of grace, intelligence and vulnerability.
Some individuals nurture and mentor subordinates affectionately and constructively—up to a point. But as soon as the mentee shows too much talent or savvy, a dynamic dance changes from a charming pas de deux to a destructive entanglement. Such is the situation for the wary, duplicitous Christine who repeatedly assesses and modifies her relationship with assistant Isabelle in Love Crime.
After standing in a line that extended around the side of the Tivoli Theater in the U-City loop clear to the back of the adjacent parking lot and into the alley Tuesday evening, we finally took our seats for the sold-out, one-night-only theatrical premiere of the highly anticipated Cameron Crowe documentary "Pearl Jam Twenty."
In Drive Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn proves his skill at maximizing suspense and jump-starting adrenalin. Drive stars Ryan Gosling as a movie stunt driver and auto mechanic by day and a getaway driver by night. Despite its Danish pedigree, Drive is a very "Hollywood" film, in other words, terrific car chases and robberies punctuate gut-wrenching violence.
Homes, dance clubs, and communal spaces spring to life in contemporary Tehran in producer/writer/director Maryam Keshavarz's debut feature film Circumstance. Focused on two teenage friends, 16-year-old Atafeh and Shireen, the story dramatizes the often hidden world within a privileged family that must deal with the repressive Iranian society, especially as it dictates women's behavior.
Webster University's Year of International Human Rights Film Series continues on Thursdays through the month of September with writer/director Thomas McCarthy's The Visitor. It's a simple story of transformation, kindness, and the triumph of human compassion. Arriving in New York City for a conference, Professor Walter Vale surprisingly finds two illegal immigrants living in his apartment.
For the first half hour of her documentary Over Our Cities Grass Will Grow, Sophie Fiennes moves her camera slowly, insistently through Anselm Kiefer's constructed caverns and tunnels, inspects his amphitheater, and considers his massive concrete sculptures—all without any dialogue or voiceover narration.
Across the U.S., evening news programs announce the tragic events—another murder of a young man or woman involved in a confrontation or the death of an innocent bystander, sometimes a child. It's epidemic; it's horrendous. In Chicago, members of a group called CeaseFire decide to take action as Violence Interrupters. The documentary The Interrupters presents their hard work.
The Swell Season meanders through the slow unraveling of the fragile relationship it follows over two years. That the couple under scrutiny is Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglova gains the documentary some affection since Glen and Mar achieved a measure of fame after starring in the 2006 independent film Once. In it, they became a couple on and off screen.